NBA All-Star Weekend will dazzle | Kwesé

NBA All-Star Weekend will dazzle

NBA All-Star Weekend will dazzle

21:00 SAST | 10 Feb 2017

The state of Louisiana will have an overload of stars next weekend as the media and basketball fans from both within and outside the United States descend on The Big Easy, as New Orleans hosts the NBA All-Star Weekend for the second time in three years.

Rising Stars Challenge

Joel Embiid would have been an All-Star Game starter, if the old selection pattern to the event had been used this year. The Cameroon native will however, make do with a starring role as a player on the World Team in the Rising Stars challenge that will be broadcast live on Kwesé Sports on Saturday the 18th at 0400 CAT, and he will definitely be one of the players to look out for.

Emmanuel Mudiay the Denver point guard is the other player representing the interests of the African continent. Mudiay, who is in his sophomore season, is averaging 11.8ppg and 4.2apg. Other players to look out for are Kristaps Porzingis (Knicks) and Nikola Jokic (Nuggets).

On Team USA, Karl-Anthony Towns (Timberwolves) and Devin Booker (Suns) have been stand-out players for their teams, and D’Angelo Russell is shaping up to be the new face of Lakers.

The Skills Challenge

The NBA Skills Challenge is part of the NBA All-Star Saturday Night festivities that include the Three-point Contest and Slam Dunk competition that will all be broadcast live on Kwesé Sports on Sunday 19th from 0300 CAT. The Skills Challenge essentially tests the effectiveness of backcourt players, and has been won, traditionally, by guards. That is until last year, when Karl Anthony-Towns became the first center to win it.

This year will be the first time in the history of the event, that frontcourt players will outnumber the backcourt participants with five forward/centers competing against three guards. That’s is why eyes will be on the likes of first time frontcourt participants; Joel Embiid, Kristaps Porzingis and Gordon Hayward.

Embiid is passing at 4.1apg per 100 possessions while Hayward is passing for 5.2apg at the same rate this season. And while Porzingis is not passing as well as these two, he is attempting 5.0 three-point shots per game, and averaging .380 success, and both skill-sets are part of the tools needed to win this event.

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Three-Point Contest

This has been a fan favourite over the years, because of the high-octane excitement that generates a huge adrenalin rush among fans around the world. Jason Kapono (Toronto raptors, 2007, 2008) was the last player to win back-to-back titles and this is what Klay Thompson wants to emulate.

The Golden State sniper dethroned his ‘Splash brother’ Stephen Curry in Toronto last year, and will be one of the players to look out for. The others are: Kyle Lowry who leads this field in the three-point shot season average with 41.6 percent, Nick Young (Lakers, 41.3 percent), C.J. McCollum (Portland, 41.2 percent) and 2013 winner, Kyrie Irving.

Slam Dunk Event

From Dwight Howard’s Superman cape in 2008, to Blake Griffin’s flight over a parked car in 2011, the Slam Dunk event has incorporated the use of props to accentuate the art of creative dunking, and this has further increased the appeal.

Aaron Gordon (Orlando Magic) leapt over a mascot last season, and is the odds-on favourite to win this term. Derrick Jones Jr, the high-flyer out of Phoenix, is another player to watch out for. The biggest name in the contest is LA Clippers big man DeAndre Jordan, but the biggest names have not won recent events.

WATCH NOW: NBA ALL-STAR WEEKEND PROMO

The All-Star Game

The showcase event of the weekend without doubt, is the All-Star Game which will be live on Kwesé Sport at 0300 CAT Monday 20th 2017. Russell Westbrook became the first player to win back-to-back All-Star MVP honors, when he re-enacted his New York heroics of 2015 in Toronto last year. Westbrook, who will not be in the starting line-up this year, will bring the same energy when he comes off the bench, if only to prove he belongs among the starters.

Other players to watch out for at this showpiece event are Giannis Antekounmpo, DeMar DeRozan and James Harden. The ‘Greek freak’ is having a breakout season and will likely see the All-Star game as a veritable platform to announce his arrival among the league’s big boys.

James Harden and DeMar DeRozan have played hard all season, and have carried their teams. That self-appointed responsibility of carrying the team might show up at the All-Star Weekend, and either of them may take over the game, as they faceoff on the hardwood.

If there will be any surprises though, be on the look-out for Isaiah Thomas and John Wall: between them, they have been to four All-Star Weekends before now, and will likely not be intimidated. The pair are playing elite-level basketball at the moment, and will be comfortable at taking over the All-Star Game.

By Akinbode Oguntuyi

@booday10 on Twitter

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